SpaceX Shows Stainless Steel Starship Parts And Hopper Will Have a Mirror Finish

The SpaceX Starship is being made from stainless steel. The skin will get too hot for paint. The stainless steel will have a mirror finish for maximum reflectivity.

It will require much less shielding.

The usable strength to weight ratio of full hard stainless steel at cryogenic temperatures is slightly better than carbon fiber and at high-temperature stainless steel is vastly better.

The hopper Starship will have three raptor engines.

49 thoughts on “SpaceX Shows Stainless Steel Starship Parts And Hopper Will Have a Mirror Finish”

  1. It may still be other people’s money, but it makes a big difference, IMO anyway, whether the other people volunteered the money.

  2. Between the shiny metal and triangular fins this is set to be the most retro-cool rocket ever!

  3. The article linked to doesn’t mention this, but John Morgan’s day job is designing systems for mass processing of the dissolved gases in water.

    He knows this stuff.

  4. If your reality doesn’t involve wealth and comfort then your problem is probably that you don’t make enough profit.
    See how it works?

  5. Funny, i never once considered the shuttle to be “high technology”.
    Real or imagined, old clunker always came to mind when thinking about that deathtrap.

  6. Yep, I recall trans-atmospheric planes and SSTO designs were all the rage in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

    By the time anyone manages to launch one a decade hence, though, SpaceX will be planning and probably building the next iteration of S/SH, one closer to the original 2016 proposal. 10 years is a lot of time for the new private space companies.

    And that without considering gradual improvements that have made other products like F9, better than they were originally planned across their operational lives.

    A 300-400 tons to LEO launcher looks like the final sweet spot E. Musk is looking for his Mars city plans, but it can pass through a series of intermediary steps.

  7. Oh no dislikes from me. I’ve dumped on Skylon for years.

    There is NOTING magical about SSTO. SSTO for decades was synonymous with full reuse. If you want cheaper access then you needed full reuse and SSTO was marketing shorthand for this. Sure the mass fraction to LEO was low but what would that matter if you had full reuse?

    But then SpaceX comes along and comes up with a plan for full reuse with two stages and large mass fractions and reduces SSTO to the realm of fantasy PPT presentations. BFR/BFS can put 10x more mass in to LEO per launch than Skylon and can do so a decade before Skylon.

  8. Well dear Sir the problem with the universe is that if you want to fund things that do not produce profit then you need to fund an infinite number of things.

  9. It’s my opinion that we’re a lot closer to “industrial replication” than is generally understood. Not Drexler’s nano-factories, but the “clunking replicator”. I think a real push to create one could bear fruit on an Apollo project timeframe. Or at least get us close enough that the replicators would only need some “vitamins” in the form of semiconductor chips.

    The chief obstacle at the moment is resource exploitation; Our planetary industrial “ecology” is sufficiently large that it supports a huge variety of niche extraction techniques that are most efficient for specific ores and circumstances.

    A “clunking replicator” would need to use more general, but less energy efficient refining techniques, like running everything through a mass spectrometer. And at the other end, it would need a library of basic designs that, instead of being optimized to use the best selection of elements, allowed for use of whatever was at hand, even if the performance of some of the alternatives was less than ideal.

  10. I’m not sure about long term habitats in space anytime soon. Short stay ones, definitely, but not places where you can raise a family. I’m not including planetary surface settlements, which could see an earlier blooming (or failure) due to people trying to live their lives in them.

    Free floating habitats seem to require far more than we can do in terms of technologies. Most likely industrial self replication, and fully automated assembly and maintenance.

    Earth is a low maintenance environment that self maintains as habitable by leaving it alone. Our cities and artificial environments do require maintenance, but few have critical failure modes that make them uninhabitable just by failing once.

    A permanent habitat in space simply can’t afford to fail due to wear and lack of maintenance. And you can’t have all of the station dedicated to keep it working.

    Robots and AI are getting much better, but they are still far from doing build & repair by themselves.

    When drones can build an habitat from space mined and processed resources, then I’ll believe it. But as things look, it’s unlikely to be any of these days.

  11. Lord Elon of Mars doesn’t believe in SPSs. But that’s fine, as long as he develops the reusable rockets and lowers the price per kg to LEO.

    Let free markets be the judge for SPSs as with any other technology.

    What I do expect to see is far more industrialization of space, with products exploiting the unique conditions of space, namely near 24/24 solar illumination, vacuum and free fall. Flawless fiber optics are an example of this, probably many others on the upcoming quantum computing domain, which do benefit from extreme material purity and delicate arrangements of atoms.

    Space’s attributes and sudden launcher cheapness might develop into some unexpected markets too. For example, if Starlink succeeds and it becomes much cheaper to launch mass produced satellites, silicon valley giants might decide to literally put their cloud above the clouds. These cloud servers in space might leverage the communication technologies developed for Starlink, and benefit from the near permanent solar illumination above.

  12. I know I will earn some dislikes and frowns, but that’s the difference between Skylon and BFR/Starship.

    One has been begging for money for more than 3 decades, starting with a good looking plan but that isn’t self funded, and the other will be launching rockets in a year or two, just 4-5 years after being cooked up, just because the guy behind it has the money and experience at hand.

    The same truth socialists always forget: for having money, you have to produce it first.

  13. Nobody would fund a charity made to send a bunch of rich guys to Mars. We fund charities to feel better about ourselves, not to make privileged people’s dreams come true.

    A private company might allow it, though, by being profitable and selling its services to those with the money, without any pretension of public welfare.

  14. That doesn’t get you to defaulting to “oldest first”. You have to keep doing it over and over, because sort by best is the default.

    Jim wants to set it once and have it stay that way. I wish I knew how to do that, I’d prefer the comments to stay sorted in chronological order, too.

  15. Yes.

    Right at the top of the comment section, under the word Conversation.

    It says Sort by “best”

    Click on Best and change it to oldest.


  16. “The current state of affairs is a result of the world view “nothing should exists unless it can produce profit”.

    This is absolutely correct. Once we made this breakthrough, the world went from freezing/sweating in the dark to our current wealth and comfort.

  17. Try funding major projects WITHOUT making a profit if you’re not the government spending other people’s money or someone getting money from the government.

  18. “The usable strength to weight ratio of full hard stainless steel at cryogenic temperatures is slightly better than carbon fiber and at high-temperature stainless steel is vastly better.”

    There will be insulation between the stainless steel and fuel tank. Otherwise the fuel would evaporate before it reaches the moon.

  19. the more power you have, the more you build it without such considerations.

    the Orion Project Nuclear Fission Pulse Propulsion huge ships were thought to be assembled at SHIPYARDS.

  20. Eventually, I believe it will be cheaper for people to live in orbital habitats, than on Earth. Presumably, you’ll be able to choose a habitat governed to taste. Immense safe spaces for the snowflakes among us, libertarian paradises for the more open minded. No doubt, there will be one named “Wakanda”, and one named “Valhalla”.
    Later existing habitats will be moved to heliocentric orbits, since cis-lunar space will become “crowded”, with powersats, transportation activity, and industry, as it is close to the raw materials of earth’s atmosphere, and Luna.
    Perhaps earth’s permanent population will fall, and the biosphere may be allowed to begin a recovery.
    Earth’s atmosphere will be mined by “skydiver” vehicles that will skip off the atmosphere, after using stagnation pressure to fill their holds. There’s so much atmosphere, no one will miss a few million teratons. Lunar operations will consist of mining, and refining processes that take advantage of lunar gravity, and heatsink. I’d try sinking wells deep into basalt, and using supercritical water to dissolve, and recover minerals, the same process the earth uses to form most of the ores we now use. If you’re building habitats, everything is useful. If nothing else, silicon dioxide makes good radiation shielding.

  21. The much lower cost of putting cargo in orbit, in terms of $/kg, and the heavy lift capacity is what is needed to industrialize cis-lunar space. Once starlink is fully in operation, powersats are beaming down countless teraWatt hours anywhere around the planet within 45 degrees of the equator, and foamed metal reentry vehicles are landing, and being cut up, you’ll see what real profit is.
    I envision huge chemical plants, powered by laser, and/or or microwave beams. Their main activities, making ammonia, and synthetic fuels. Once you have energy, water, and air, everything else is just chemistry. Just to annoy the climate alarmists, I hope they use coal as a source of carbon.
    The first exo-powered industry should be in oil country, along the gulf coast. There is the gulf for a heatsink, existing pipelines, port facilities. Existing petroleum refineries, and other chemical plants could be switched from being powered by combustion, to being powered by huge rectennas, that would cover marshes, without damaging them. At first, petroleum, and natural gas would remain the feedstocks, but eventually the plants would create their own hydrocarbons where they are truly necessary, rather than where they are now used out of convenience. Eventually, using atmospheric carbon dioxide as a feedstock, as it becomes cheaper than coal, or agricultural byproducts.

  22. It would be the first fully reusable space ship. The investors may just want front-row seats to (what they believe) will be among the greatest achievements of mankind. I know if I had the power I’d be investing in a new SpaceX competitor because they seem to be raking up the rest of the market.

  23. Whatever Elon comes up with, has gotta be better than the dopey shuttle was too too high a technology leap ,in retrospective, for its time

  24. 6 months from now? I’d be very surprised if it ever happens, let alone in 6 months. Falcon Heavy is done and finished, can already launch satellites, and likely does not have the energy for something this size. I think we’ll see the starship materialize toward the end of the year, watch it do hops for a year or two while the booster is tested, maybe 2022 test launch of the entire thing.

  25. Launch vehicles must operate outdoors, and for this rocket, multiple times. So typically they are built in factory buildings, but not clean rooms. Satellites have electronics and other sensitive parts, and are usually assembled in clean rooms.

    This “hopper” will be used for take-off and landing tests, and is likely an “iron bird”, a prototype that isn’t necessarily using flight-grade materials. As long as it flies and holds together, that’s good enough. I would expect the final version will be welded in a factory building, where they make sure the welds are good, rather than the field assembly they are doing here.

  26. This is merely an early prototype, for take-off and landing tests, like the Grasshopper test vehicle they used to develop Falcon 9 landing capability.

  27. People require a bunch of extra systems too. Plus a whole lot of testing, as the other poster correctly implied.

  28. The current state of affairs is a result of the world view “nothing should exists unless it can produce profit”.

    What do you care if others produces beneficial things with limited profit potential.

  29. A whole lotta people are going to invest a whole lotta money in a project that will, (if successful), take a whole lotta time, to produce not a lotta return. That is not bad, but expectations of the investors are probably not in line with the time line and payoff prospects.

  30. it is routine on test launches to put concrete in the capsule ( or chease) to simulate the actual weight of the payload. If you put people in the rocket for test flights you could blow them up. Not good pr

  31. Not good PR to have people die riding their more-likely-than-usual-to-blow-up test rocket, hence the concrete or cheese and cars and stuff.

  32. This is just the 2nd stage, no booster. And probably an incomplete 2nd stage at that, missing many of the systems of a production model. I don’t think they can launch anything with that.

  33. I’m guessing the problem with carbon fiber is the host matrix. The fibers themselves should be good in a wide temperature range.

  34. I would not be surprised if he uses this prototype Starship on top of Super heavy (under construction at LA port) to start flinging Starlink satellites by June 2019.

Comments are closed.